Justice delivery: Group wants upgrade of Enugu Sexual Assault Referral Centre

Stakeholders of Sexual Gender-Based Violence Justice Network after a dialogue session in Enugu recently 

The Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Justice Network (SJN), has called for an upgrade of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Enugu State for effective justice delivery.

The program, a one-day dialogue session, was organized in Enugu weekend by the SJN cluster with support from USAID

Scale project is aimed at providing speedy justice delivery to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) victims as well as enhance the need for public-private partnership in Enugu State on sexual assault referral center (SARC.) whereby victims /survivors will have access support services.

The coordinator of SJN in Enugu State, Obiegue Margaret said that it is made up of six clusters: Nigerian Association of Women Journalists in FCT Lawyers alert in Benue, AGBANI FARMS LIMITED in Enugu, Ikra Foundation for Women and Youth Development (IFWD) in Bauchi, Nigeria League of Women Voters ( NILOWV ) in Benue, Community Advancement Initiative for Self Reliance (ICAI4SR ) in Osun, Legal Awareness for Nigeria Women in Kaduna.

She confirmed that SJN came into existence as a result of slow, tortuous, and expensive service delivery to victims of SGBV, ‘SJN leveraging on different skills of members decided to form a network with CSO’s, NGO’s and private sector which is Agbani farms’.

Obiegue stressed that for effective service delivery to victims, SJN resolves to partner with stakeholders, state government, and private sectors to 

implement VAPP and ACJ Laws, strengthen of sexual assault referral Center ( SARC), expansion of jurisdiction to senior magistrates to try rape cases, and establishment of special courts for sexual gender-based violence cases.

She appealed to the private sector to lend their voice in the fight against SGBV by giving their support to the upgrading of the SARC since the government has done its part in the establishment of the center.

In his remarks, Chief Onyemuche Nnamani, the Chief Executive Officer of Agbani Farms, Auto Star Motors, and member of the Police Service Commission Board, said he had a passion in the fight against SGBV, advising that people should start from their areas to protect the downtrodden in the society.

Nnamani stressed that people should fight sexual offenses at all costs as it had eaten deep into society, especially in people’s physiology.

He said that the fight against SGBV is everybody’s business as it does not cost money to protect people against it, hinting that it is a matter of determination.

Also speaking, the Chairperson, of the League of Women Voters, Enugu State chapter, Nnenna Anozie, said that the private sector was selected to see how it would assist the government in ensuring that the SARC was in perfect working condition.

Anozie, who is also a legal practitioner, said that justice delayed is justice denied, stressing “if the center functions well, victims would be eager to lodge their complains without fear or favor.”

She equally informed the public that abandoning one’s family because of hardship was a serious offense that could be reported in a court of law.

In a related development, the Permanent Secretary, of Enugu State Ministry of Gender Affairs, Dr. Uzoamaka Okenwa, said the center should be a safe place for SGBV victims, but expressed regrets that the reverse is the case due to the non-functional facilities in the center.

Okenwa said that the main aim of setting up the center was to offer free medical services to SGBV victims, noting that the state government was doing its best to keep the place alive.

However, he said, the center still needs collaboration from the private sector.

In the same vein, the Chairman, of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Enugu State Chapter, Ngozi Ngene, urged participants to intensify efforts on sensitization as most people do not know that such a center exists in the state.

Ngene explained that NAWOJ had taken its sensitization programs to many villages in the state, informing victims to always speak out whenever they are being violated as an injury to one is an injury to all, and there can never be justification for violence of any kind.

Also speaking, the manager of SARC, Evelyn Onah, recommended that the center should be established in each senatorial zone of the state for the easy and speedy delivery of Justice.

Onah also complained that they need workers and other logistics to enable them to take good care of victims, adding that most times the workers in the center would contribute their money to take care of the victims because of the passion they have for the job.


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